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The theft took place in the early hours of Sunday, February 17. Police believe the thief hid inside the venue of the Stockholm International Antiques Fair and removed the paintings from their frames after the event had closed for the night. Security guards chased the culprit, but he managed to escape with the five canvases.

Antiques insurers AXA Art are offering a conditional reward of SKr1m (£70,000) for information leading to the recovery of the paintings.

Most valuable was an oil on copper by Flemish artist Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) A View Near Alost, with an asking price of SKr25m (£1.6m). The other paintings stolen were: Anders Zorn’s oval mourning portrait In Grief; Bruno Liljefors’ Hare in a Winter Landscape; Markus Larsson’s Shipwreck in Thunderstorm and Aksell Gallen-Kallela’s landscape with rider One Year Old Snow.

“Our top priority is to get the pictures back and swift action is essential,” said Adam Golder, chief executive of AXA Art in the UK. He said the firm was working closely both with the Swedish authorities and with Interpol. They are in contact also with the Art Loss Register and with leading art dealers and auction houses around the world.

“Such well-documented and valuable works of art are difficult for thieves to dispose of,” he added. “The pursuit will continue for as long as necessary.”